Statement from JMSW Program regarding recent events and social justice
We are writing to you in response to the violence and the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. It would seem that during a hard-hitting global pandemic that we would all be kinder, gentler, and more supportive of one another as we are all in this together. We recognize the array of emotions that many of you may be feeling right now. We are also utterly disturbed, disgusted, and outraged by not only the recent events, but in the overall treatment of people of color and other minority groups in this country. Let us acknowledge that many have watched the state of these events and fear for their safety and that of their loved ones. This emotion can be translated into energy and passion to do something. Not just because you are a human being, but because you are future social workers. As a social work community dedicated to the mission of social change and enhance human well-being and to empower people who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty, we have a shared responsibility to promote and advance racial and social justice. As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist, none of us can truly rest. Our actions matter. Our fight is for the dissolution of the powers, policies, and practices that perpetuate racism. Though there is nothing we can do to bring back the lives of those we lost, we can certainly work to prevent even one more lost life. We ask you to get involved in initiatives that advance racial and social justice in your community. Below is a list of things that you can do to get involved and effect change.
- Get involved in your community
- Educate yourself and others around you about racism and discrimination
- Provide emotional support to your fellow students
- Donate to and join social action and grass-roots groups
- Boycott businesses that do not promote social justice and equality.
- Create your own social action group
- Write your city councilmen and women, mayors, and state legislators. Advocate for specific legislation related to policy brutality.
- Peacefully march and protest: The march is a historical weapon that has been used to expose injustice. There is power in numbers and unity!
- Vote! Make your vote count!
We stand with you, the community, and the world against racism, racial profiling, police brutality, and injustice. In the words of Dr. King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Please don’t give up! It is up to us to unite and stand together in solidarity for racial justice and for the respect of every individual’s worth and dignity. We must remain dedicated to the movement, not the moment. It is in all of our hands to create a better world for all who live in it. We also encourage you to remain hopeful that systematic change will come and that justice, equality, and unity will prevail.
Links for additional resources
JMSW Class of 2020 Hooding Ceremony
The JMSW Program hosted its Hooding Ceremony for the 2nd cohort of MSW students, a little differently than originally planned this year. As it has changed so many other things in our lives this year, COVID-19 and the physical distancing requirements put in place to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of it, meant that an in-person hooding ceremony would not be possible.
However, that did not mean that a celebration couldn’t happen, or that the accomplishment was any less worthy of celebration. Therefore on May 15, 2020, at 6:00 pm, faculty, staff, adjuncts, graduates, friends, family, and other supports, gathered on Zoom to recognize the accomplishments of the JMSW program’s second graduating cohort.
These photos show just a portion of the over 120 individual accounts that were logged into Zoom to celebrate the JMSW Class of 2020! We are so proud of our students and their resiliency to receive their MSW in the middle of a global pandemic! We can’t wait to see what they will do next! Congratulations JMSW Class of 2020!
Graduating JMSW Students advocate for expedited licensing processes for Texas Social Workers
Two soon-to-be MSW graduates, Maryssa Vasquez & Cassandra Leissler, have volunteered to serve on a Licensing Task Force through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW)/Texas Chapter. Both students are members of NASW, and are passionate about advocating to improve licensing processes in Texas, especially in light of the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners was not prepared for shelter-in-place orders and employees to process applications. Add to that, an already existing backlog of applications and delays in processing times for those seeking social work licensure in Texas (which is required in order to be called a Social Worker in Texas), and graduates are currently facing months or more before they can sit for the licensure exams currently required to obtain licensure.
This task force is working to appeal to Governor Abbott, to amend current licensing regulations, allowing anyone with a completed application, to be granted Temporary licensure for up to 12 months while waiting to sit for the exam.
Maryssa shared that "Joining the NASW licensing task force meant a lot to me, specifically due to the uncertain times we are living in. Feeling as if I could give back to the profession that has given me so much purpose has been extremely rewarding!"
Cassandra also commented, "I chose to serve on the NASW Licensing Committee because Texas needs social work professionals to lead and serve during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Many social work jobs in the state require licensure and hundreds of qualified new graduates are being forced to delay employment and service to their communities because of severe licensing and testing delays. I feel honored to advocate on behalf of all social work professionals who are ready to enter the field and the communities who need their support."
Dr. Felderhoff also volunteered to serve on this committee, not knowing that two of the JMSW students had already done so. The JMSW Program is so proud of the commitment of our students to advocate for social workers in Texas!
JMSW Student Reighley Baugh invited to present research at international conference
We are excited to announce that JMSW student Reighley Baugh has been invited to present her research at the 5th International Conference on Practice Research in Melbourne, Australia. The conference will take place May 25-27, 2020. Her research presentation is titled, "Minimizing The Risk:Targeting Effective Interventions to Reduce Human Trafficking Recidivism." This is not the first international conference to accept Reighley's research. In July 2019, Reighley and her mentor, Dr. Nila Ricks, presented a research paper at the 9th International Conference on Social Work and Mental Health held in York, United Kingdom. She also previously had an opinion editorial on Foster Care-to-Prison Pipeline published in the Texas Tribune. We are extremely excited for Reighley and proud of her accomplishments.
Food for thought: It's time to define what 'good' means in our industry
When it comes to design work in the social sector, we often hear debates over terms, categories, and taxonomies: Should we call it social design? What about design for social innovation? Or how about the nebulous borders around terms like participatory design, collective impact, and co-design? It’s enough to make one’s head spin. But while these debates are raging on, we’re missing the answer to a much, much more important question. We’re missing a shared definition for what good looks like.
The question: What is a shared definition for “social good” in our profession? Read the full article>>
JMSW Faculty and students participated at the 2019 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Texas conference in Galveston, TX. Dr. Hadidja Nyiransekuya, Dr. Sarah Oliphant and Dr. Dhrubodhi Mukherjee presented a paper on “Refugee Mental Health.” JMSW students Emily Sibley, Shaharzade Ebrahimi and Sierra Plentl also volunteered at the conference.
Social Work Advocacy Day at the Texas State Capitol
JMSW students participated in Social Work Advocacy Day at the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The National Association of Social Work, Texas Chapter hosted the day with social work professionals and students from around the state in attendance. The day’s agenda included an Advocacy Panel & Immigration Session, Rally with Transgender Education Network of Texas, and a REAL symposium on race.
Our JMSW students also met one-on-one with legislators to advocate for or against current bills that they have been researching and following all semester in their Advanced Social Policy course. Topics they addressed included mental health in public schools, human trafficking, asylum protection, and eating disorder education in public schools.